When it comes to describing Pat Burrell these days, the most common phrase uttered is "he is what he is." Which is what exactly?
Burrell's biography will have many chapters. This still-unfinished part has "Man Without a Face" penciled in as the title. So far, it’s not very interesting. Here's a synopsis: "In 2007, Burrell perfected the art of the walk, while fan disapproval waned, understanding he'll never become the player they thought he'd become, while still providing a valuable service by getting on base."
Burrell's season hasn't made for any drama whatsoever. You can't lump him among the team's biggest problems. You can't give him much credit when they win. Nothing specific happened to make him the subject of today's post. Which is precisely the point.
If you’re starting to sense that Burrell – the millions of dollars he’s owed, the big-swing promise, the era he represents – is being swept under the rug, you’re not alone. There’s no desire – on either side – to make the situation better, even though he’s certain to play out string as Philadelphia’s left fielder through 2008. Manager Charlie Manuel sat him last season during the heat of a Wild Card race because he wasn’t giving them the best chance to win, but spring is a time of new beginnings, which is what Burrell has been given for two solid months with few breaks, more than some would have imagined. The results have been ... almost irrelevant.
Given better bench alternatives, as David Dellucci and Jeff Conine represented late in 2006, Burrell’s playing time might have been cut short sooner. Now, he’s being challenged by some hot hitters: "Dellucci Lite," Greg Dobbs, and "Conine Lite," Jayson Werth. Add to the mix Michael Bourn, who might have a brighter future than all of them, and Manuel has a couple bullets besides Burrell.
Yesterday in the Daily News, Manuel avoided the issue on whether Burrell’s job was in jeopardy. One begins to sense there’s no real desire to fix him this time, or give him many more chances to get going. After sitting out the last two, Burrell went 0-for-3 with a walk last night.
Sitting against left-hander Doug Davis Monday might have been the first sign of change, just as Wes Helms’ two gaffs in a game out west signaled the end of his tryout at third base. Tonight they face Randy Johnson, a left-hander, and if they’re smart, they’ll make "Pat the Bat" "Pat the Pinch Hitter." He's hitting .170 against the lefties.
Drabek placed on the DL
Phillies.com is reporting that last year’s first-round pick Kyle Drabek has been placed on the DL with an inflamed right elbow. The move is considered "precautionary," according to the report.
Phillies still interested in Percival
Detroit Free Press: "The Tigers had a scout at the University of California-Riverside on Tuesday, as former Detroit closer Troy Percival threw a bullpen session there. ... Those who know Percival say his loyalty to the Tigers could be a significant factor in his decision, but the Philadelphia Phillies have also been active in their pursuit."
Coste comes up big in Reading win
Chris Coste, who was optioned to Double-A Reading last week by his own request, was involved in scoring rallies in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings yesterday as the R-Phils erased a 4-0 deficit to win 5-4. Coste was just 1-for-9 since his demotion but came up with three hits yesterday.
Phillies sign yet another independent league reliever
Independent league reclamation projects now fill every corner of the Phillies minor league system as the team has followed the R.J. Swindle signing with yet another Newark Bear acquisition: 31-year-old right-hander J.J. Trujillo.
Trujillo was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Padres in 2000 and floated around their system for a while, earning a four-game cup of coffee with the parent club in 2002. Kansas City picked him up in 2004 and assigned him to Double-A Wichita for the entire season; it was his last action in affiliated ball.
This season with the Bears, Trujillo did not allow any runs in nine relief appearances, surrendering only four hits and two walks while striking out 11 batters in 13.1 innings pitched. He will be assigned to Double-A Reading. [Newark release] [Baseball Cube stats]
Game chat: Phils try to avoid series sweep
Randy Johnson (2-2, 4.52 ERA) and the Diamondbacks go for their seventh straight win while Jamie Moyer (5-3, 4.18) and the Phillies try to stop the bleeding tonight at 7:05 p.m. ET. Mash your fists against the keyboard here, in the company of others.